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I began this a few nights ago, while in the grip of a combination of headache and heartbreak. Rather than edit out the references to that now-past circumstance, I decided to finish it up and post it as-is as a pained precursor to something I've been promising to publish for some time. Pain tends to swallow everything. At a moment of injurious impact, pain explodes in the brain, obliterating everything else. One awakens from such a moment as if from a nightmare, gingerly checking to see: "Am I still alive? Am I all here? Where was I? What now?" Prolonged, intermittant, or chronic pain tends to nag, "Pay attention to me! Pay attention to me!" sometimes making it difficult to concentrate on anything else. We can, I could, go on and on about the evolutionary benefits of the imperative nature of pain. But what I'm interested in tonight, as I notice the impact of substantial-to-me but inconsequential-to-others suffering on my own experience of the world, are the ethical implications of pain's tendency to call attention to itself. As I write in , we ignore pain at our peril. Pain evolved as a mechanism to provoke us to make necessary changes in behavior. The pain of a sprain says, "keep weight off this limb so that the joint can heal. " The pain of loss says, "take care of what remains. " The pain of a broken heart says, "don't make that mistake again. " (Unfortunately, on that one, which mistake is never quite clear. ) But I wonder if pain also might carry an ethical message just as urgent as the behavioral shockwave sent by a broken bone. If my pain eats me, that's probably true for other animals too. If, in the midst of it, my pain feels like the most important thing in the world, then other animals must attach similar value to the relief of their own suffering. When I am making decisions for myself, I can choose to set aside the feeling that my pain is so very important in order to work to relieve the suffering of others that I judge to be more urgent. I can make that choice in good conscience because it is my own suffering that I am setting aside. But if I am in the position of choosing for those who are not in a position to choose for themselves, do I have the same right to set aside their suffering, knowing that its relief must be their most fervent wish? Animals held captive by other members of our species are not in a position to choose for themselves. They express their wishes quite clearly and unambiguously, crying out in pain and struggling against the fetters, chains, cages, and crates that constantly chafe their bodies. Activists who have done open rescues consistently report that the sound of the screams within factories where hens are in cages or sows in gestation crates is deafening, unnerving, and impossible to ignore. And yet, a growing number of animal advocates argue that we ought to ignore those cries, that the interests of the actual animals in those crates and cages (and those scheduled to be put into such crates and cages next week and next month and next year) are superceded by the interests of not-yet-existing animals in the far further future, whose liberation might be delayed or made less likely by efforts to ban specific forms of animal abuse in cialis by mail the present. Many activists have come to fear that efforts such as those to ban battery cages might inadvertently lead to increased meat/dairy/egg consumption or otherwise set back the movement for animal liberation. While understandable, the fear that such efforts will lead to increased meat/dairy/egg consumption can be shown to be counter-factual. 1 The argument that we must ignore the interests of actually-existing animals in deference to the interests of future animals can be shown to be inconsistent with the aim of animal liberation. 2 But, let's stay with pain for a moment here. Let's pretend that it might be true that the abolition of battery cages now would necessarily delay the liberation of future chickens. Let's imagine, furthermore, that we are animal advocates in an egg-producing state now contemplating the abolition of battery cages. Knowing that the suffering of the hen in the battery cage is, to her cialis by mail, the most urgent concern, knowing that her most fervent wish is to be liberated from that cage, who are we to say that she must continue to suffer for the sake of birds who haven't been hatched yet? Isn't making decisions for animals that are counter to their own interests exactly what we oppose? May we sacrifice animals on the altar of animal liberation? Luckily, this is [cialis by mail] a false dilemma not unlike those thought up by ethics professors in order to stimulate debate. It is possible to work for the ultimate liberation of animals while not neglecting the immediate concerns of actually-existing animals. Indeed, I will argue, we cannot possibly achieve real animal liberation (by which I mean liberation as the animals in question would define it as opposed to our own legalistic species-centric definition) unless we attend closely to the concerns of actually-existing animals. Difficult decisions still must be made and these sometimes may place us in the uncomfortable position of balancing the interests of some animals against the interests of other animals. Cialis by mail there are ways this can be done without being unfair to anyone. But before we can engage in the kinds of creative problem-solving and productive debate required by the real dilemmas we face, we must get past the impasse created by (on the one hand) unconstructive attacks and (on the other hand) defensive unwillingness to listen. Thanks to that impasse, many animal activists left one or both of the summer conferences exhausted and demoralized rather than energized and ready to try out new ideas. Some activists and organizations have fled the field rather than risk being caught in the quagmire. Because the so-called abolition-welfare debate has become so heated and at times dishonest (on both sides), I've delayed publishing my ideas about all of this until I can express them as unambiguously and dispassionately as possible. I've been working on a multi-part essay that should be ready for publication soon. My aim is to intervene in what has become a destructive and unproductive argument in the course of which the interests of actual animals (and the reputations of some activists who work to further those interests) have become caught in the crossfire of a war of words between self-proclaimed abolitionists and unapologetic purveyors of happy meat. I know that it's likely I'll get caught in the crossfire myself, which is why I've been taking time to choose my words very carefully, knowing that any ambiguity may be seized as an opportunity to mischaracterize me or my beliefs. Now that the semester's over and I don't have to start teaching again until late January, I ought to be able to finish it up and get it out soon. 1 In the realm of practical fact, as apart from the realm of abstract argument, there is not enough available agricultural land to produce by "free range" methods the quantity of meat/dairy/eggs currently produced via the varieties of intensive animal agriculture known as "factory farming. " Thus, regardless of whether or not some subset of consumers were to feel more comfortable with meat/dairy/eggs as a result of so-called "humane" farming, the actual effect of the abolition of factory farming necessarily would be a significant net reduction in meat/dairy/egg production and, therefore, in the number of animals sacrificed to human appetites. More on the maths of this to come in another post. 2 Both purveyors of "humane meat" and vociferous opponents of efforts to ban battery cages (e. g. ) treat actually-existing animals like objects to be deployed in the service of the interests of future animals. The whole point of animal liberation is to quit treating animals like objects. It seems to me unlikely that we will achieve that aim by treating animals like objects.


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